What traditions are we going to pass along to our little guy? That is a great question and one of the easier ones to answer. We are concerned about the cultural identity and information aspect of an international adoption, so we have talked with several adult international adoptees and done some online searches. The responses typically split about right down the middle—some were glad their parents introduced them to the Korean culture; others thought it was just a hassle. There were even some differences of opinions within families.
As for us, we plan on introducing our little guy to as much as we possibly can and encourage learning within his interests as well as helping to cultivate additional interests. We will be purchasing children’s books on Korea and international adoption. Currently, we are stationed in California and have several large and diverse metropolitan areas close by. In Los Angeles, in particular, there is a large Korean adoptee population. Many of the Korean adult adoptees provide services and ceremonies to introduce children and teenagers to the Korean culture. As long as our son (or future children) is interested in those types of activities, we will make every effort to allow him (or them) to participate.
Many have asked if we plan on learning how to cook Kimcee or other traditional Korean food. Not at this time, mostly because it is unlikely to be a regular in our little guy’s diet and something that he would miss. We would certainly encourage our son to learn how to make those things if he was interested when he gets a little older.
In one of our adoption classes, the social worker gently reminded the class that toddlers weren’t really “losing their culture.” At 18-24 months, they are not cognitively aware of annual traditions and holidays, foods associated with those holidays or regular Korean diets. What we could do as adoptive parents is to introduce them to books, magazines, foods and mentors as needed or desired. That made sense to us.
My husband and I do plan on incorporating, combining and creating our own family traditions and celebrating holidays, birthdays and ordinary days with our son. In all reality, while we will introduce Korean education, we cannot truly introduce Korean culture because we are not Korean nor do we live in South Korea. We will also strive to let our son have some input on how much he learns or what we do. Eventually, we would like to travel there with him…perhaps when he is a teenager.